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The Light and How to Swing It: One heal or two


Every week, WoW Insider brings you The Light and How to Swing It for holy, protection and retribution paladins. On Sundays, Chase Christian invites you to discuss the finer side of the paladin class: the holy specialization. Feel free to email Chase with any questions you want answered, like how to party with Thrall.

There's no need to be ashamed. Many people have felt how you're feeling right now. Let's get it out in the open: You're concerned about mana efficiency. Running out of mana is not a nightmare -- it's a reality. If you choose the wrong heals, your mana pool plummets. Being inefficient with your heals isn't the status quo; it's a death sentence. Mana went from our least important stat to our most thought-of concern.

I have been working on different techniques to refine my healing strategy within the confines of our new healing paradigm, and I have come up with a method for saving mana and maximizing your healing done. One of the mechanics that makes holy paladins unique from other healers is our talent Protector of the Innocent, while another is Beacon of Light. When we combine the two abilities, we can achieve far more healing than would normally be possible through the method of splitting holy power points.

Protector of the Innocent provides the heal

Protector of the Innocent is the core talent that makes this strategy even possible. While it's been nerfed and rebalanced from its original, overpowered form, the current version is still quite potent. The idea is that any single-target heal we cast on another player will also heal us for a decent amount. The amount we're healed doesn't scale with spellpower and doesn't proc an Illuminated Healing bubble via mastery, but it can critically heal. My holy paladin's PotI heals typically land for around 6,000 healing. No matter how weak the original heal is, 6,000 healing is transferred back to me.

PotI is the ultimate talent for keeping ourselves alive. We can typically focus on healing everyone else and let PotI's passive heals handle our health pools, especially if we're only taking incidental damage. While it's not truly AoE healing, it does let us heal multiple targets at once. I know a lot of paladins who were once against PotI in general, but it has proven itself to be quite valuable. However, once you start using the holy power-splitting strategy, its value becomes immediately apparent.

Beacon of Light works with everything

Beacon of Light used to be pretty selective in what heals were passed through it. Blizzard actually considered only allowing one or two heals to pass through it in Cataclysm, in order to reduce its potency. While the developers eventually settled on a 50% nerf in healing done through Beacon, the ability remains a pillar of our healing paradigm. Without it, we end up having to cast too many heals to keep an entire group and a tank alive.

Blizzard recently nerfed Light of Dawn pretty hard but also shared with us some new information about Beacon. Light of Dawn and PotI are intended to pass through Beacon, granting that healing to the Beaconed player. This means that any time we receive an incoming heal via PotI, half of it is then replayed to our Beacon target. In essence, any time we heal another raid member, both 50% of that heal and the PotI heal are passed to the Beacon target. Every heal we cast actually gets a bonus heal attached via the PotI heal.

Mix the two together

The secret to holy power splitting is exploiting the fact that PotI heals us for the same amount, no matter how powerful the original heal happened to be. Imagine you're sitting at 0 holy power points and Daybreak procs for you. You can dole out two Holy Shocks in quick succession, each of which will generate a holy power point for you. If you take a standard tack, you could use both Holy Shocks on a wounded hunter and see half of each Holy Shock and half of each resultant PotI heal passed through Beacon of Light to your tank. You could then release your 2 holy power points into a Word of Glory, which again would heal the tank for half plus half of a PotI heal. You would've done 2 Holy Shocks and 2 points of WoG healing with 3 PotI procs.

While other moves like Templar's Verdict scale differently based on how many holy power points you use, two 1-point WoGs heal for the same amount as one 2-point WoG. We exploit the fact that we get a PotI proc for every individual heal and try to cast as many heals as possible.

Take the same scenario as above. We use our first Holy Shock on the hunter and then immediately use Word of Glory, which together cause two PotI procs. We then use our second Holy Shock and Word of Glory again, causing two PotI procs. In the end, we did two Holy Shocks and 2 points of WoG healing like before, but we ended up with four PotI procs instead of just three.

In the example scenario, that's a 25% increase on healing we receive and a 12.5% increase in healing for the Beacon target, yielding a 10% increase in overall healing done. The increased number of casts also lets us flex our healing to cover more targets with heals, and the extra heals can help cause procs to occur. By splitting our holy power points into individual heals instead of stacking them up, we do more healing. The same strategy works for Light of Dawn, since LoD also scales linearly with holy power points. Consider the simplest example: You have holy power points and Holy Shock is off cooldown. You're better off using the holy power points immediately and then using Holy Shock and then using that holy power release, as you gain additional PotI procs with each extra heal.

The only catch of this strategy is that sometimes you want to have a powerful LoD or WoG ready to counter a boss ability or powerful AoE. This strategy doesn't work for a scenario when you want to stack up holy power points, but you can achieve much of the same result by making good use of Holy Light. If someone is low on life, it can be more efficient to use several Holy Lights to heal him back up, as you'll be proccing PotI with every heal cast. With the Glyph of Beacon of Light reducing Beacon's mana cost to zero, you can even swap your Beacon to someone who needs healing and heal him directly. Your PotI heals will still go to him, and so PotI is even an increase to our single-target healing when Beacon is active. With no serious consequences and significant mana savings, there's really no reason not to use two heals to get the job done.

The Light and How to Swing It: Holy helps holy paladins become the powerful healers we're destined to be. Learn the ropes in Cataclysm 101 for holy paladins, study the new balance between intellect and spirit and learn how to level your new Sunwalker. Tanking is a job, DPS is a craft -- but healing is truly an art.

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